This is For Every Girl Fighting The System
It was the end of the school term
I accompained my mum to my brother’s school
I was four years old
My brother was nine
The three best students for each class were always selected
And prizes awarded amidst claps and encomium
It was the turn of his class
He came second
A girl came first
I was glad, I was proud of him
I clapped so hard my hands began to hurt
My mum wore her pride like a peacock
And marched out with him to receive his prize
But her face was marked with lines of unsatisfaction
Well, must it be because the first position was snatched out of his hands?
I questioned myself
Every parent wants her child to be the best
On our way back home
My mum said to my brother
Congratulations, you did well
But a girl beat you to the first position
You shouldn’t let that happen next term.
Whats wrong in being a girl?
My four years old brain pondered
Why cannot a girl be the overall best
In an egalitarian society,
My mum would have said
Congratulations my son, you did well
But second place is not the best
Try harder next term
I am proud of your achievement
My mum bought me every kind of dresses
Puffed shoulder, wide- lacy-frilly skirts
But I envied my brother’s trousers and t-shirts
All I wanted was simple t-shirts and trousers
Why couldn’t I have clothes like him
I wailed at my mother
Because you are a girl
And girls should not wear what belong to boys
I hung my head in despair
Pondering on this argument
Why make this much effort for someone who don’t want it
Well, you don’t have a say in this, she smirked at me
So I wore my dresses and pranced about in my girly shoes
Cussing at my life for being a girl
Visiting the tailor was another scary day
My mum and I always came home mad at each other
I had to make my pick out of the feminine collection
I was always very quick to choose the simple dresses
Can we go now mum
I would say to her
Oh, so quick
She would stare over my head asking me to show her my choice
Well, here it is
I would fume at her
Why not this? She would say
Why that? I would reply
At least now, you can’t question my choice
It’s still from the freaking female catalogue
So can I have my deserved space
I would glare back at her
I enjoyed playing football with my brother and male cousins
Running, jumping and screaming to high heaven
Oh, the scent of freedom and liberty
But my mother wasn’t having any of it
It was all good at the beginning
She didn’t care too much
But whenever an errand needed to be done
It was me who had to go
What a heavy burden
The boys continued with their football
While I quickly went on the errand, returning to join in screaming
One day, the football had to stop
Because you are a girl!
You shouldn’t be jumping around!
You are beginning to grow boobs!
I hate my boobs then!
And would like to cut it out if given the choice
I bared my teeth at her
But then I found a way around her
Whenever she wasn’t home
I joined them
But my long dresses wasn’t made for the sharp turns and twists of football
Often, the ball got buried in my yards of skirts
We had to dig through to find it
But my cousins were super nice
So we came up with a plan
I had to be the goal keeper
Both team wanted me even if I sucked at it
Because my wide skirt did the job of fending off the ball
That’s quite smart right?
My team always won
My skirts did a very good job
The moment we heard my mother’s car horn
I scrammed into the house
Wiping off my sweat and trying to stabilize my breathing
To get caught was to be flogged
And lectured on the proper way of being a girl for days
Sunday was the Lord’s Day
It was another day to spell out your gender codes of conduct
The pastor was the police
The bible was the constitution
It was a predictable service
I’ve heard it countless times I could become a pastor
Woman, be submissive
Learn how to please your man
Be quiet when he is angry
Give him food when he is hungry
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
For a submissive woman is a woman after God’s own heart
I would dose off mid speech
Waiting for the service to end
So we could go home to eat rice
My mum said
I don’t want you to sit in the front pew any longer
Well, I don’t care wherever I sat
I would rather stay home
If I had a choice
The back pew would be more comfortable for my sleeping session
But out of curiosity, I asked her why
She said I was disrupting the church with my negative rebellious energy
Well, if your pastor was making sense
Perhaps, you won’t be staring at me during the service
Trying to pin down what energy my body was emitting
I grumbled under my breath
I was always the best in school
I was smart
I had no competition
My report sheet was predictable
Intelligent but rude
The intelligent part always got my mother so proud
But she would shake her head and beg God to change me
I could understand her though
I had one flaw
I was a girl
And girls shouldn’t be considered rude
They shouldn’t have a cause to fight for
They shouldn’t talk back to people
No no no, they shouldn’t even have opinions
I would laugh at her and run into my room
You don’t have to be worried for me mother, I don’t want to be married either
The more I aged,
The more my femaleness became hell for me
So I distanced myself from anything considered feminine
I didn’t want my brother’s penis either
So no, I had no penis envy
I just wanted to do things everyone labeled boyish
And also liked the benefits that came with having a penis
I would sit with my legs wide apart
Strut around like a peacock
Pick up fights with boys in school and on the street
I was tough
I was assertive
And I dared anyone to correct me
So everyone called me a tomboy
And I began to wear the label with pride
Because it meant being different from other girls
It meant power, authority, intelligence and superiority
It meant being able to wine and dine with boys on the same table
But then as I began to put things into perspectives
I realised the problem wasn’t me
The problem was the society and its perception of the female body
I realised being called a tomboy shouldn’t be a label I should wear with pride
I realised whenever I talked, men listened
But whenever another feminine girl talked, she was always shrugged off
I realised there is language and there is language
The difference between the two is how you wield it
I realised that whenever I wrote articles and responded to comments
People always assumed I was male
I always took great joy in telling them I was a girl
Then they would ask again to be sure
Are you sure you are a girl?
And I would puff out my chest in great pride
But then, I stopped smiling whenever my guy friends said
We don’t see you as a girl anymore. You are now part of us.
You belong to the guy club. We can’t date you.
So I would say: No, I am a girl. A girl who doesn’t want to be a boy either
You don’t get to mutilate my female body to consider me equal
This is it: I ran away from my life. The problem
I didn’t run from my female parts. The physical me.
The problem is this: We raise girls to be different from boys
Now, I still love to wear big t-shirts and trousers
And there are days I like to wear dresses and paint my face
It dawn on me that the dresses are not the problem
The problem is the baggage attached to the dresses
The problem is being taught hours hours unend how to rightly be a girl
Investing so much effort in teaching to live life as the inferior gender
Talks like: Keep your virginity. It’s a big price to pay for
Don’t have multiple sex partners or you would be considered a slut
Let a man decide for you what he wants or he might get turned off
For the big price, why don’t you go sell me in the market then?!
Meanwhile, the boy child is left off the hook
He doesn’t need to be taught these things
Only the wings of the girl child must daily be clipped
For the unfortunate reason that she is a girl and must fit the norm
So I reclaim the female parts!
I take great pride in the boobs and vagina!
I love big t-shirts and sweaters!
My favorite color is blue!
I do whatever I want without giving it much thought!
I sit and ask:
What if I was super feminine and liked frilly dresses, and stylish hairdos?
Would I still be taken seriously? Wouldn’t I always have to prove my worth as female?
Why can’t girls be happily girly without their femininity attached to inferiority?
Isn’t this why boys stay miles away from anything labeled feminine?
These asymmetrical relations, that can be traced to no beginning! Will it ever end?
I will say this:
A culture that weighs down a woman to feed the ego of a man is bad!
I am a woman. I sit on the same table with you. As a woman!
I have boobs and vagina! And I will behave whichever way I want!
I will be feminine! And masculine. I will be whatever I want to be!